Topeka The leading Republican candidates for U.S. Senator on Monday dueled over gun issues.
U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt touted his endorsement by the Kansas State Rifle Association, and criticized rival U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran after KSRA President Patricia Stoneking accused Moran’s staff of threatening her. Moran’s campaign denied the allegation.
At a news conference, and standing by Tiahrt, Stoneking said when she told Moran’s campaign manager Todd Novascone that the group was going to endorse Tiahrt, Novascone told her, “When Jerry is elected, you’re going to be sorry.”
Stoneking said she took that as a “political threat.”
Didn’t happen, says the Moran campaign. “Absolutely no one from our campaign threatened her,” said Dan Conston, a spokesman for the Moran campaign. Conston described the allegation as part of “a string of desperate negative attacks.”
The KSRA is an affiliate of the powerful National Rifle Association, which has remained neutral in the race, having given Tiahrt an “A-plus” rating, and Moran an “A.”
Earlier this month, the KSRA said it would also remain neutral because under its charter agreement with the NRA, it cannot make an endorsement contrary to the NRA.
But Stoneking said Monday that the KSRA board decided that didn’t apply if the NRA was neutral in a race.
She said the KSRA board unanimously decided to endorse Tiahrt because of his leadership on gun issues over the years, especially his push for what has become known as the Tiahrt amendment, which restricts the release of information from a federal firearms trace database to only law enforcement in connection with a criminal investigation.
Moran’s campaign defended Morans’ record on gun rights, noting his “A” ranking from the NRA. “Jerry Moran has been an incredibly strong defender of the 2nd Amendment and Kansas gun owners’ rights,” Conston said.
Moran and Tiahrt are running for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican who is running for governor. A third Republican senate candidate is Tom Little. The primary is Aug. 3.